Russia’s Weakened Hand Could Pay off for Beijing in Major Gas Deal

A major gas deal between Russia and China could finally be sealed this week when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits China on May 20-21 and meets with President Xi Jinping.

May 20, 2014 at 9:28AM

This article was written by Oilprice.com -- the leading provider of energy news in the world. Also check out this recent article:

A major gas deal between Russia and China could finally be sealed this week when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits China on May 20-21 and meets with President Xi Jinping. In the lead up to Putin's arrival, the two sides have been working on putting the finishing touches on a 30-year contract for a gas deal a decade in the making, and Russian officials have suggested that the deal will be completed by Putin's arrival.

Gazprom's (NASDAQOTH:OGZPY) CEO Alexei Miller announced on a Russian news show last weekend that Russia and China were "one digit" away from finalizing the agreement. "There is just one question-it's ... a starting, base price in the price formula which, it's remarkable, has already been fully agreed upon with our Chinese partners," he said on May 17. "It's a very little more-to put in only one digit, and a 30-year contract to supply 38 bcm of gas from East Siberia to China will be signed," said Miller.

38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas is equivalent to one-quarter of China's current gas consumption. The contract begins in 2018 and runs through 2048.

To get the gas into China, Russia plans on building a $23 billion pipeline that will span the length of Russia, just north of the Chinese border. It will connect with China at four points – one near where the borders of China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia meet, and three more connections much further east, including one at Vladivostok.

The negotiations have taken so long mostly because neither side wanted to give in on price. China was looking for similar or better pricing than what Russia gives to Europe, which would be between $10 and $11 per thousand cubic foot (mcf). For years, Russia held out for a higher price, but the crisis in Ukraine has weakened Russia's hand. Gazprom gets about 80 percent of its revenue from selling gas to Europe, and with Russia's relationship with its western neighbors deteriorating quickly, Russia needs other markets. That has it looking east.

China has gained even greater leverage over the years from working with Turkmenistan on natural gas supplies. China already receives about half of its natural gas imports from Turkmenistan – 20 bcm – and the two sides agreed last year to triple the volume to 65 bcm by 2020.

So while Russia was waiting for China to cave, the Middle Kingdom was finding alternative suppliers.

Moreover, not only is Russia feeling exposed by its dependence on a European market that could shrink in the coming years, but it is also in a race against the clock to meet rising Asian gas demand. That's because a lot of liquefied natural gas capacity is set to come online in over the next three to five years; both Australia and the U.S. have ambitious plans to send LNG to Japan, South Korea and China. Russia is in a much better position geographically to meet that demand, but it would need to accelerate building pipeline capacity and liquefaction terminals before Australian and American companies beat them to the punch.

All this is to say that China has capitalized on Russia's vulnerability, and before the last "i" is dotted on the gas contract, Beijing might have what it wants.

If that happens, it would be a major concession by Russia. As Steve LeVine notes over at Quartz, the $10-$11/mcf price Russia may agree to would be below the $12/mcf that Gazprom needs to merely break even.

For the deal to go through, China might have to pay a large amount upfront instead of over 30 years. Investors continue to pull billions of dollars out of the Russian economy in the response to the crisis in Ukraine, so Moscow could use Beijing's money.

OPEC is absolutely terrified of this game-changer
Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000... per hour (that's almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company's can't-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report reveals the company we're calling OPEC's Worst Nightmare. Just click HERE to uncover the name of this industry-leading stock... and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable LANDSLIDE of profits!

 

Written by Nick Cunningham at Oilprice.com.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers